The wildfires of 2017 left behind more than just physical damage to people and property, they left behind mental scars that have affected people beyond just those who lost homes or loved ones. In the wake of the fires, the Wildfire Mental Health Collaborative (WMHC) sprung up to provide support to anyone struggling in the aftermath.
But as they’ve offered various initiatives, the WHMC wanted to find a way to streamline and increase their outreach, and the Sonoma Rises App was born.
The app is free, available in English and Spanish, and helps connect users with free and local mental health care services. Users can access customized tools to help cope with stress, heal from loss, prioritize self-care, connect with others, manage anger and track their mood. There are also tools designed just for teens, with a special 13 and older section.
“The use of technology means that people can seek help from the privacy of home or work when they are feeling anxious, angry, depressed, fuzzy minded, etc.,” said Debbie Mason, CEO, Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County. “It provides coping strategies right when someone needs them and allows them to track their progress with
that issue, should they
choose to do that.”
The app requires age verification, and for users to sign a service agreement and then create a four-digit passcode. Then you are asked to voluntarily answers questions about your demographics and your experiences during the fire.
The main page asks “What would you like help with right now?” and offers potential topics such as coping with stress, managing anger, prioritizing yourself, healing from loss, feeling connected and RiseTeen for younger users. There are also lists of resources for users in need.
RiseTeen is Mason’s favorite feature.
“I love how it is focused on real life issues that teens face daily, like being bullied, having a hard time with teachers or parents, not being able to focus on school work,” she said. “The same could be said for the adults, but I am most worried about teens, because they rarely ask for help — even when they are struggling mightily.”
Finally, there is an activity regiment and activity tracker, meant to help restore mental balance to users, and offers activities such as an anxiety log, a mood tracker, a well-being log, a post-disaster stress log and a depression log.
Students, staff, or parents interested in outreach for the Sonoma Rises app at their high school should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.